Category Archives: gratitude

Life Is Amazing.

Tonight, I dreaded the idea of going out in this painfully cold weather to check on a well and water troughs for cows. Dreaded. As in, how in the world am I living in a world where I check a well in 27 degree temps? Seriously.

But, I did. And, you know what I saw? Besides my breath in front of me? Stars. Amazing, beautiful stars that could not be numbered in a huge, amazing, beautiful sky. And, for a brief moment, I looked up and stared and thought, “Amazing.”

Sunday, I dreaded the thought of Jett becoming sick. Fever, congestion, loss of appetite. You know the stuff those little people get. I dreaded it changing up my Monday. Then, changing up my Tuesday. It did change it up. And, you know what I saw? Besides spilled Tylenol on my living room chair? A little boy who is growing up and changing so fast. Who has turned into the sweetest boy in the entire universe. Who made me laugh out loud so many times that, for a moment, I considered pulling him out of school and keeping him with me all the live long day forevermore….for a moment. And, then I put him to bed tonight and thought, “Amazing.”

Life is always amazing. Full of wonder. Full of crazy gorgeous evening skies and full of moments where your child sits closer to you. It’s always there. And, many times, those amazing moments are noticed in our life’s interruptions.

These past couple of days have reminded me: Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

They don’t just change to become more tolerable. They change to become your greatest blessings.

It’s when life becomes amazing.

Tonight, I go to bed amazed.

Thankful.

In love with life.

In love with the people in my life.

And, in love with the One who created it all and said, “It is good.”

 

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Filed under God Stuff, gratitude, Life Experiences, Motherhood

So, This Is 40.

Completely lame to title a blog post after a movie. But, I’m in my 40s now. So, I’m comfortable being lame. I always thought turning 40 would bother me. Because, in my mind, I am always, always 18. Aren’t we all? Sure, we don’t feel 18. But, we are always that 18 year old who still feels like they are navigating through this thing called life. I can still remember as vividly how it felt to be embarking on my college career as much as I can remember how I felt walking my third child into school the first day. Feelings are just so powerful. And, they hard to forget. I can remember walking into Mrs. Howard’s third class at Jackson Road. I can remember how she made me feel secure. I can remember almost drowning in the Gulf and my father never letting go of my hand. I can remember holding onto the OUTSIDE of the escalator of Southlake Mall and riding it up until my mom climbed on top of a brick display, grabbing the soles of my shoes, pulling me back down.

I can remember the first time I felt the presence of God and thinking that I never wanted to leave it.

I can remember graduating from college and looking into the mass of onlookers and seeing the gleam in my grandfather’s eye.

I can remember not being able to stop the tears when John Henry was born and holding him in my arms for the very first time. I remember looking at my mom and saying, “My world is right now.”

I can remember being heartbroken. But more than the heartbreak, I can remember my friends taking care of me and being there.

I can remember opening my heart up to love again. I can remember kissing Kris Takle on his brother’s sofa for the first time. I can remember my mom’s tearful face when we loaded up in a King Air and moved to Oklahoma City.

I can remember when Anna Takle was three years old, and I realized that I had to start recording how fun she made my life.

I can remember deciding to have a third child after swearing two was enough. But, then, looking at that future super-hero in the face with gratitude and thanksgiving that he was mine.

I can remember Kris telling me, “I think we can do this,” when he told me we were moving back home to Georgia.

I can remember fully surrendering my life to the ministry and my father ordaining me a pastor.

I can recall exactly how those moments felt. And, I am so thankful for them all. For the good moments. For the bad. The good have taught me gratitude. The bad have taught me forgiveness and love.

I’m no expert in life. I have many more miles to travel and hopefully many more candles to extinguish. But, I have penned 40 things that I have learned so far. Perhaps, next year I will have a different view. A different outlook. A different perception of life. I hope I do. Because, that means I’m evolving. But, today, this is 40:

1. Don’t put too much weight into a present emotion. Because, you never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.

2. You don’t have to talk through every single feeling, emotion, or issue.

3. Friendship in marriage is just as important as love.

4. Having a third kid is a game-changer. Don’t do it unless you’re willing to change the game.

5. I like our new game with three kids….now that I’ve regained my sanity. Somewhat.

6. My blood pressure rises when I read status updates or comments that portray a God who is ready to take out His vengeance on people. Or when people read the Word but don’t get the Spirit behind what’s being said. God is a God of love. Period.

7. I need to not let myself get so worked up over #6.

8. God is not up there, out there somewhere. He is within me.

9. My mom is the person I can tell anything to.

10. I don’t always have to be right. And, my way isn’t the only way. In parenting, in life. We all have the same mission but different methods. We have to work through our own salvation.

11. It’s okay to simply say, “that’s not going to work for me” without giving further explanation.

12. If I don’t schedule my time, someone else will. Create margin with your time.

13. Gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation, and praise are the keys to EVERYTHING.

14. Pain doesn’t last.

15. Being skinny is fun. But not as fun as a really good meal.

16. Whatever I focus on will expand – whether positive or negative.

17. Kris and I travel really well together. He is my favorite travel partner.

18. It’s important to jump into your kids’ passions and be amazed with them.

19. Never, ever give up on people.

20. Even when you become frustrated with where someone is in his or her life, don’t stop being their friend. They will get through that rough place. Love them through it instead of pulling back.

21. When you know you’re wrong, own it.

22. Say thank you as often as possible.

23. Chill when life gets interrupted. Accept it. It happens.

24. Dreading makes everything worse. Don’t dread what you know you already have to do.

25. If you see a need, and it’s within your means to meet that need, do it.

26. Give, give, give.

27. Laughter is not only the best medicine, it’s the heartbeat of my life.

28. Not everyone is going to believe the way I do. And, that’s okay. (So, let crazy Facebook comments and otherwise go.)

29. My mom thinks my kids are just has hilarious as I do. I am so thankful I can share my life with her.

30. My dad is the most consistently loyal, forgiving, compassionate, merciful person in the universe. Hands down.

31. I have the best friends in the world. And, the older I get the more I realize how much I need them.

32. I could never leave the ministry.

33. I love being alone with God.

34. I either cry or almost cry every time I worship the One who has made all things so good.

35. Don’t sit alone when you’re down. As hard as it is, call someone. Go be with someone you trust. Just don’t be alone.

36. Whenever you think something good is going to come from telling someone exactly what you think or “finally giving them the what for,” please know, nothing good will EVER come from that. Ever.

37. Don’t close the door to new friendships.

38. It’s none of my business what other people think of me.

39. Try really hard to not yell at your children. They are real souls with real feelings.

40. God is for me. So, all moments have been for me. The good ones and the bad ones. Because, God has been IN all of those moments.

If you’re still reading, thank you for indulging me in such a long post. And, thanks to all of you for being in my world. I am so thankful for my friends and family. I am so thankful to serve a God who is full of love. And, I am so thankful to enter my forties. I think I’m going to like it here.

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He Is For You.

Originally written and published in The Grip January 2014.

Romans 8:31 says, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Minsters quote this all of the time. Heck, you’ve probably posted it as your Facebook status before. But, what does this truly mean? If God is for you, who can be against you? Does it mean exactly what it says? That, He is for you? Always? If this true, then that means ALL moments are for you. Because, God is in all moments.

That interruption in your day you weren’t expecting. That moment was for you. The cereal spilled all over the counter. That moment was for you. The trip back to your child’s school, because he forgot his lunch. That moment was for you. That busted pipe over the recent freeze. That moment was for you. Your spouse walking out the door and leaving you a single mother. That moment was for you.

That amazing sunset you paused to watch. That moment was for you. Witnessing the birth of your child. That moment was for you. Your littlest putting his nose to your nose and saying, “I love you, Mommy.” That moment was for you. Enjoying that incredible dinner with good friends. That moment was for you. Falling in love again. That moment was for you.

It doesn’t mean God caused any of the difficult circumstances. But, He as certainly been in them. And, in all moments. Because, He is for you. And, when you can wrap your head around the fact that if God is for you, then all moments are for you….then, you can learn to say, “Nothing goes wrong in my world.” But, all moments have been for me. On Christmas Day, when my husband and I realized our hot water had been leaking and ruined our downstairs floors….Neither of us became upset. Neither of us said, “We can’t catch a break” or “just our luck.” Neither of us felt attacked by a devil. It’s just life. Things break. And, instead of focusing on that inconvenience, our thoughts turned to gratitude for a wonderful first Christmas on our farm. When my oldest had a lot of questions about his dad leaving, I explained to him that if his dad could go back, he would make a different choice. He responded, “I wouldn’t want him to. Because, then I wouldn’t have my Daddy Kris and my little sister and brother.” Oh, if we could all see life’s moments as a child.

My most difficult moments have been my greatest teachers on forgiveness. My most beautiful moments have been my greatest teachers on thankfulness. And, I know He has been in them all. Because, He is always, always for me. And, He is always for you.

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The Hard Places.

“Every challenging situation becomes an opportunity for me to trust Him – to obey, to learn, to grow, to rely more on His grace.” – Christina Fox

I read this quote recently and it has ministered to my own spirit for the past several days. Adjusting to living on the farm has been, well, an adjustment. We labor more than we ever have. Our drive to work is longer. Heck, our drive really anywhere is longer. It’s just harder. But, just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Or a wrong decision was made. Sometimes, things are just hard. And, hard is okay.

It’s in the hard places we truly grow. Growth is impossible without something pushing us forward. Trusting God isn’t necessary unless we have something to trust Him in. We don’t need His grace when things are always easy. We can’t be an over-comer without something to overcome.

Instead of focusing on what “seems” wrong about the place we are in and focusing on how hard things may be, we have to focus on what is good and right while we are in that place. We have to ask God, “What do you want to work in my life through this?” For example, instead of focusing my thoughts on the extra work that comes from taking care of horses, I am changing the way I look at it. I watch my daughter carry two buckets of food and walk across a field to the gate. I imagine what God is working in her as she feeds these large animals. What is He speaking to her spirit on those walks across the field? What does she hear in those quiet moments alone with God’s creation? What if she learns something in these walks that rescues her heart when she is forty? What if?

God doesn’t waste one day of our lives. He uses everything for our growth. For our good. For our destiny. I love living on the farm. But, if I focus on what is hard, I will become bitter instead of better. If I focus on every positive, life-giving thing it provides, I will not only fall in love with every part of it, I will grow. I will be fulfilled. I will be content. I will be full of joy. This is why James said, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

He works all things for your good. Even the hard places. So, begin thanking God for them. It is in these places, we become better. We become complete.

 

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Temporary.

Our greatest battles usually have little to do with our circumstances. We fight our greatest battles in our mind. I've been fighting my own for the past several days. I know better than to rely on what I'm feeling than to rely on Him. I also know that all feelings remain neutral until I give meaning to them.

 

I know these things.

 

Yet, still I found it easier to embrace the feelings. Thus, engage in battle….in my mind.

 

Yesterday, I celebrated my beautiful mother's birthday. And, even on a day that should be completely about her, she ministered to me.

 

“What you're feeling is temporary,” she said. “You won't always feel the way you're feeling right now. Remember that.”

 

Temporary.

 

And, yet I found myself trading a thankful heart…..enjoying time with my family….all the GOOD stuff in my life…..I traded it all for focusing on a feeling that is temporary.

 

Then, she said, “Now, begin thanking God for everything good thing in your life. Don't stop thanking Him.”

 

And, THAT is the key to winning this battle. Thankfulness is the key to winning every battle. Not trying to figure out the how's or the whys.

 

Thankfulness.

 

Don't take your eyes off of what you already have, because you can't see what you want to see when you want to see it.

 

What you're feeling right now is temporary. Don't lose sight of what's eternal. Let thankfulness be your predominant thought today.

 

Today, I'm thanking God for this beautiful woman.

 

 

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The Thief of Joy.

Article written for The Grip:

I recently read this Theodore Roosevelt quote on Pinterest, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Isn’t it though?  And, keeping up with the Joneses seems so much more exasperating with the access of social networks like Twitter and Facebook.  We look at their beautiful home.  Her beautiful children.  Their extravagant vacation.  His new car.  She really seems to have it all together.  How do things always fall into place so perfectly for them?  How did their kids get so perfect?  Why can’t I be that kind of mother? Dang, their life is so much more glamorous than mine!

We look at our own lives and wish we had theirs.

I’ve done it on different levels before.  I can remember reading another writer’s blog once and suddenly feeling very inadequate as a writer.  She was just good.  Really good.  And, funny.  Man, if I could come up with the funny one-liners like she does.  How does she do that?

Then there is the girl who is always disciplined to eat the right foods and go to the gym.  I’m not going to lie.  I have coveted another girl’s disciplined habits and six pack abs before.  But clearly, I love Junior Mints more than I love impressive abdominal muscles.

Don’t we often want what we don’t have?  If only I had her sense of style.  If only I had an eye for decorating my house like she does.  If only I had a job like his.  If only I had a personality like hers.  If only, if only.

We can’t trade places with any of the people we envy.  And, you know what?  It wouldn’t fix us if we could.  Then, we would simply take on a new set of problems.  A new set of difficult circumstances.  A new set of struggles.  And, the truth is, everything isn’t always as perfect as it seems.  None of us really know the struggles of another.

Comparison robs us of contentment.  It robs us of joy.  The solution is a better understanding of who we are in Him.  It’s gaining a proper perspective of our own life.  Not too long ago I had let a little resentment set in when I said, “I haven’t had a full 24 hours away from my children in nearly seven months.”  I gained perspective when I did a heart check.  My new perspective became, “I haven’t missed a day with my children in nearly seven months.”

Perspective changes everything.  So, does giving up our right to say “it isn’t fair.”  Because, we really lose the right to say, “it isn’t fair” until we have suffered on the cross as much as Christ suffered.  When my good friend, Cindy Beall, was asked to respond to God not being fair once, she replied, “I’m glad He isn’t.  I need His mercy.”

I may never be as creative a writer as some, but I will do my best to hear God and pen His words when I do write.  I may never be able to pick out the perfect draperies like my friend.  But, I can be thankful I have a friend who can help me.  I may never have perfect children.  But, I can thank God He sees them that way.

And, I thank God that He sees you and I that way.  Perfect.  Blameless.  Without guilt.  Because, when He looks at us, He sees us through the blood of His Son.  Who paid a price that really wasn’t His to pay.  Now, that wasn’t fair.

Let gratitude and perspective fill you today and every day.  Let the knowledge that YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe bring you peace.  Know He is always working ALL things for your good.  And, rest in this truth:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

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Ten Years.

In many ways it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.  In so many other ways, it really does.  Ten years ago at this time, I was two months pregnant with John Henry.  And, his dad left.

I guess I never imagined I would be in that place.  I certainly never saw myself divorced.  I never thought I’d be a single mother.  It was the single most heart-breaking, devastating time in my life.  Words were said that pierced me.  Actions taken that floored me.  And, I couldn’t imagine that my life would ever be restored back to where it was.

I spent the next few months busying myself with work, getting ready for a baby, and involving myself in the community.  I traveled to Chicago to an Arts Conference hosted by Willow Creek Church.  I headed up the campaign for my uncle who was running for County Commissioner.  He won, by the way.  And, I joined with city leaders in putting together a Memorial Service for the one year anniversary of 9/11.   And, in my down time, I cried.

But, I also prayed.

I prayed scriptures over Bryan’s life every single night of my pregnancy.  I prayed blessings over him.  In the middle of my pain, I cried out to the Redeemer.  And, I released forgiveness little by little until I no longer carried any anger or resentment.

I was still heartbroken.  There were times I would feel sorry for myself.  I’d cry the ugly cry.  My countenance would be less than inviting.  I remember during one of my pity parties, my dad told me, “You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.”  Of course, I knew how I was going to feel.  Exactly like I was feeling at that moment.

Until one day, you wake up, and the weight of it all seems a little less.  The hurt isn’t quite as painful.  And, before you know it, you are smiling.  And, you are staring into the eyes of a little blue-eyed baby boy who has changed everything.

September 24, 2002, I held John Henry.  I looked at my parents and said, “My world is right.”  It was.  The hurt was still there.  But it became less.  A few months later, Kris Takle flew into my life.  Literally.  Six months later?  We were married.  Six months after that?  We were pregnant with Anna Takle.

And, now ten years later?  My life is full.

It is redeemed.

I never believe that divorce is God’s best for one’s life.  But, I do believe He is a God of redemption and will make good out of messes.  I will never write about the nit and the grit of the words said or the actions during it all.  I really see no need, honestly.  It’s not where I live.  I don’t ever want it printed and posted to hurt John Henry or Bryan.

As for Bryan, he has allowed God to work in his life.  He is a great father to John Henry.  He is a great friend to Kris.  And, Kris is a great friend to him.  We celebrate holidays together.  We have vacationed together.  We aren’t “normal.”  We really didn’t think “normal” was working.  So, we just do things differently.

I would defend Bryan’s name until my last breath on earth.  Because, he is a good man.  And, I am forever grateful to him for John Henry Landreth.  I have learned more about compassion and forgiveness because of that little boy than I ever imagined possible.

John Henry is a constant reminder to me of how GOOD God is.

Anna and Jett are constant reminders of His redemption.

And, Kris Takle.  Well, you know what he is.

The one who made my heart beat fast again.

It’s been a good ten years.

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Filed under disappointment, divorce, gratitude, Life Experiences, Love, Motherhood, prayer, Writing